The Oak Lawn Special Olympics Basketball Day has to
be one of my favorite days of the year. Not only because my
youngest son, Nathaniel, gets to play basketball with his friends,
but because I have the chance to watch an amazing team of young
athletes grow and learn together.
My son, 10, started with the Junior Jordans when he was 8.
Not only could Nate barely hold the ball, but dribbling down the
court was an impossible feat. Now one of my greatest joys is
watching him dribble the ball all the way down the court with a
smile on his face that reaches from ear to ear.
I am the proud mom of five kids. I have been to countless
games. From basketball to rugby and a decade of volleyball. But on
this day, everything you may have thought about winning or losing
goes right out the door.
This day is about happiness. It's full of pure radiance
from a child who can barely walk but gets the ball in his hands and
guards it with all his might. It's about the child that was lifted
over his head by a coach just to make a basket. It's about teamwork
where an opposite teammate shields a smaller child from getting
blocked. It's about acceptance, awareness, love, excitement and
pure, raw pride.
No one looks at the scoreboard. No one cares, especially
the players. They are just proud of their effort. On this day, my
son is not different or special. On this day, he is a superstar.
Nathaniel is an athlete who is happy just to be a part of the
On this day, no matter who scores, the crowd goes
My smile takes weeks to come off. Can you imagine how
thrilled my son was to autograph programs for all his fans? I often
have thought that all athletes should attend one of our games to
learn the true meaning of sportsmanship. To see with their own eyes
that it doesn't matter who wins or loses, but how you play the
Every year we pack the stands with family and friends
wearing colorful T-shirts. I believe Nate's fan club leaves with
way more than they came with.
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